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Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: A Phoenix Rising from the Ashes — Hannah Elias (Contest)
Thursday, February 16th, 2023

UPDATE: The winner is…bn100!

Passing as white in a racist society was more commonplace than many would think and generally enabled the passer to thrive if not survive.  As in the case of Belle DaCosta Greene, passing enabled her to receive renown as the librarian of the J.P. Morgan Library. The truth of her race wasn’t uncovered until long after her death. Hannah Elias never claimed to be white, but never acknowledged her blackness either. When asked what she was she’d say either Sicilian or Cuban. The discovery of her true race didn’t lead to admiration and accomplishment but to trial and tribulation.

Hannah was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1865.  Her father was mixed-race (African-American and Native American). Her mother was light enough to pass for white. An enterprising “better-to-ask-forgiveness-than-seek-permission” type, Hannah “borrowed” a dress from her employer in 1884 to wear to her sister’s wedding. The act landed her in Moyamensing Prison and thrown out of her family’s home.

She made a living as a sex worker in Manhattan’s Tenderloin neighborhood, where she met rich glass factory owner John R. Platt, who was forty-five years older than she. She left the brothel and engaged in an affair with him, although some resources state they were married. Platt lavished her with gifts and money, enabling her to amass wealth through investments and real estate. She moved into a mansion on Central Park West. Their happy-for-now existence was shattered in 1903 when famous city planner Andrew H. Green was shot to death in a case of mistaken identity. The killer, Cornelius Williams, a former tenant in one of Hannah’s boardinghouses, mistook Green for Platt.

The case brought to light Hannah’s true racial identity. Her home became a stop on a sightseeing tour, and she found herself harassed and assaulted by White New Yorkers outraged that a black woman could be living in Central Park West, own various real estate properties, and be worth millions of dollars. In 1904, Platt’s family bullied him into filing a blackmail complaint against Hannah to strip her of her wealth. She took the stand in her own defense, prevailing against Platt at the original trial and in the appeal.

In 1915, she lived in the penthouse of one of her own buildings and by then had joined in business with African-American real estate developer John E. Nail to turn Harlem into a mecca for African-Americans arriving from the South in search of decent housing.

She went to live in Europe and died there of a heart attack at the age of 73.

As a New Yorker I’d always heard of or read accounts about the murder of Andrew H. Green but not until reading Shomari Willis’ Black Fortunes did I learn of Hannah Elias and her role in his death. Another great account of this phoenix who rose from the ashes is the Barbara Chase-Riboud novel, The Great Mrs. Elias.

Discovering hidden histories like that of Hannah Elias feeds my hunger to learn all I can about the lives of African-American women and fuels my desire to help put the spotlight on them.

For your chance at a $10 Amazon gift card, comment on Hannah’s life and/or share similar hidden histories of women you’ve learned about.

Better To Marry Than To Burn

Freed Man seeking woman to partner in marriage for at least two years in the black township of Douglass, Texas. Must be willing and able to help establish a legacy. Marital relations as necessary. Love neither required nor sought.


She sidled up to him, cupped his erection and fondled his balls.

“Ready for bed or ready to bed me?”

He moaned, placed his hand atop hers and increased the pressure. Already hard, he hadn’t imagined he could get any harder.

“Is that beautiful brass bed new?”

He gulped. “Ye—yes. Bought it—bought it for the honeymoon.”

“I’m ready to be bedded now,” she whispered. “Or is that something we must negotiate?”

All thoughts of dinner vanished.

“No,” he rasped, leaning forward, as hungry for her lips as he was to be inside her.

“Good.” She stepped back, out of reach. “But, let’s be clear…” She bent over, so her butt protruded toward him. She massaged each buttock so her crack parted invitingly. “Tonight it’s the Greek way or no way.”

He blinked, stunned by this demand to be taken anally. His master had had books filled with drawings, depicting naked Greeks wrestling. Those pen and ink depictions flashed before him now. Arms constrained by arms, legs entwined with legs, butts and groins enmeshed in snug contortions. He’d love to take Queen that way, experience first- hand the erotic intimacy etched in the men’s struggle-laden features.

He took one step toward her then stopped. No. One day, he would…but not tonight. Not their first time. Their first time would be the nose-to-nose, chest-to-breast, cock-to-vagina coupling he’d hungered five years for.


Buy link
Michal Scott Amazon Author Page:
Twitter: @mscottauthor1

20 comments to “Anna Taylor Sweringen/Michal Scott: A Phoenix Rising from the Ashes — Hannah Elias (Contest)”

  1. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · February 16th, 2023 at 8:22 am · Link

    As always thanks for letting me share

  2. Cindy
    · February 16th, 2023 at 8:49 am · Link

    Hannah’s story was quite interesting. What a life. She was a shrewd woman. It makes me sad that we, as a people, had and still have such racist attitudes towards people different from ourselves. If you have more than you will ever need, why do you have to deprive others? Tolerance… Acceptance…Respect. Those are what we all should strive for. Evil and violence is running rampant. The world would be a much better place without them.

  3. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · February 16th, 2023 at 1:51 pm · Link

    So true, Cindy. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Louise B
    · February 16th, 2023 at 9:34 pm · Link

    What an interesting and inspiring story! I don’t understand why the fact the killer lived in one of her boarding houses was her fault, although I can see how the intense scrutiny of the killer could lead to uncovering her identity. Still, she didn’t hire him to kill the other guy. People were just mad that she’d made them look like the racists they were.

  5. bn100
    · February 16th, 2023 at 10:18 pm · Link

    interesting background

  6. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · February 17th, 2023 at 9:59 am · Link

    As I read the accounts the killer was jealous of Platt being Hannah’s lover. I also forget to mention he was African American so I guess that’s what got people suspicious about her. Maybe if the killer had been White there might not have been the backlash. In any case you’re right about society being shown up for the racists they were. Thanks for commenting.

  7. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · February 17th, 2023 at 10:00 am · Link

    A truly interesting background. I wonder if they’d ever make a movie of her life. Thanks for commenting.

  8. Jennifer Beyer
    · February 17th, 2023 at 7:44 pm · Link

    I love when I find out something interesting about a historical figure. For example, in the tv show Hell On Wheels had a character based on Olive Oatman. The world is full of some many interesting stories.

  9. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · February 17th, 2023 at 11:12 pm · Link

    Thanks for sharing about Olive, Jennifer.

  10. ButtonsMom2003
    · February 17th, 2023 at 11:56 pm · Link

    I always enjoy reading your posts on Delilah’s blog because you have such interesting and educational things that you write about.

  11. flchen1
    · February 18th, 2023 at 12:08 am · Link

    Whoa–this definitely isn’t something that many of us know about. I appreciate all you’re doing to bring to light some of the lives of people of color and the impact they’ve had on our world. So much what is brought to light through the current educational system is truly lacking in diversity, and whether or not the intent is harm, that is some of the result as many of us have much of who we are essentially erased from the public eye except in the most negative of ways.

  12. Debra Guyette
    · February 18th, 2023 at 6:39 am · Link

    Hannah’s story is amazing. She must have been a strong woman.

  13. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · February 18th, 2023 at 1:23 pm · Link

    Glad to be of service ButtonsMom.

  14. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · February 18th, 2023 at 1:26 pm · Link

    So true Flchen1. And sadder still is the backlash we’re experiencing in the US to restrict knowledge about diversity.

  15. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · February 18th, 2023 at 1:27 pm · Link

    Strong and headstrong. From an early age she refused to be put in a box and willingly suffered the consequences society inflicted because of her choices.

  16. Mary McCoy
    · February 24th, 2023 at 4:02 pm · Link

    So many similar stories due to the “one drop” rule. Love that she felt asking for forgiveness was better than asking permission.

  17. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · February 24th, 2023 at 4:42 pm · Link

    I like that about her too. Thanks for commenting, Mary

  18. Rachel Blackburn
    · February 25th, 2023 at 9:24 pm · Link

    Hannah’s life was very interesting, and this entire story is news to me. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Anna Taylor Sweringen
    · February 25th, 2023 at 11:00 pm · Link

    My pleasure Rachel.

  20. Delilah
    · February 27th, 2023 at 9:16 am · Link

    Congrats to bn100! You’re the winner! You’ve been on quite a streak lately!

Comments are closed.